NXT TakeOver Chicago results, recap, grades: Another epic show ends in brutal fashion
WWE once again has a ton to live up to on Sunday after NXT stole the show Saturday night
WWE's developmental brand once again stole the show one night before a major pay-per-view -- as it so often does before these days. NXT TakeOver: Chicago II, the 20th incarnation of the PPV series, emanated live Saturday from Allstate Arena with a solid card that may not have been as stacked as some in the past but nevertheless provided plenty of fireworks.
The main event Chicago Street Fight between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa was a thrilling finish, and even some of the matches that were expected to underwhelm came through in a major way. CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with results, analysis, grades and highlights from the big show.
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NXT TakeOver: Chicago results, grades
NXT Tag Team Championship -- The Undisputed Era (c) def. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch via pinfall to retain the titles: Talk about a coming out party for Lorcan & Burch. In what was easily the least anticipated match on this loaded card, Undisputed Era was pushed to the limit in a physical and fast-paced match that only continued to escalate over the second half. While the crowd entered showering O'Reilly, Strong and Adam Cole with love, it was Lorcan and Burch who received a standing ovation after the match as the duo belied their vanilla appearance with an elite performance. A series of dramatic late saves helped the heels avoid pinfalls, including Cole interfering to stop Lorcan from pinning Strong after hitting a European uppercut from the top rope. Orcan hit the spot of the match when he ran off the apron to land a double blockbuster onto the floor. Cole was ejected by the referee, and after O'Reilly and Strong survived a double submission attempt and a four-man hockey fight in the center of the ring, Strong hit a running clothesline as O'Reilly propped up Lorcan for the finish. Grade: B+
Ricochet def. Velveteen Dream via pinfall: If there are two wrestlers on the extended WWE roster capable of equaling the type of unprecedented, in-ring magic that fans can only find in NJPW, these two might be the ones to watch in the coming years. Chapter 1 of their feud was an instant classic highlighted by incredible athleticism, intensity and amazing attention to detail. Dream, who told his opponent "anything you can do, I can do better" throughout the build, came out in a boa doing Hulk Hogan mannerisms while wearing trunks similar to Ricochet's when he wrestled as Prince Puma with Lucha Underground. The two stars of the future also opened the match teasing the Hogan-Rock face-off from WrestleMania 19.
Ricochet hit a series of flashy high spots including a stiff suicide dive that was followed instantly by a twisting tope con hilo onto the floor. Dream countered with a sick rolling Death Valley Driver from the second rope that brought the crowd to its feet. But Dream produced the best spot of the match moments later when he held Ricochet up high in a suplex attempt from the ring apron before landing hard onto the floor outside.
Late in the match, Dream got onto his knees to taunt Ricochet, pushing him in the face while saying, "I am homegrown, you belong in the bingo hall" and "I'm a wrestling God." Ricochet countered by hitting Dream's rolling Death Valley Driver and then Dream's Purple Rainmaker finisher. When he attempted a Shooting-Star Press halfway across the ring, Ricochet could only find Dream's knees. Dream then missed his own Purple Rainmaker in an attempt that saw him leap nearly the full length of the ring. Ricochet closed the show with an insane 630 splash from the top rope for the 1-2-3. The sky is the absolute limit for these two both independently and together as this feud has the potential to set new benchmarks within NXT and beyond. Grade: A+
NXT Women's Championship -- Shayna Baszler (c) def. Nikki Cross via submission to retain the title: This is how you build indelible characters. Cross' rabid and maniacal idiosyncrasies were on full display in this one, to the point where even a loss was made to feel like a positive development. Despite the unenviable position of following the Ricochet-Dream classic, this match did well to stay short and intensely physical. The finish came when Baszler countered a crucifix pin attempt by applying her rear-naked choke finisher. Cross fought off the submission as long as she could before smiling creepily in a way that only her character could pull off before passing out in defeat. Consider this a strong opening statement for a feud which could be only beginning. Grade: B
NXT Championship -- Aleister Black (c) def. Lars Sullivan via pinfall to retain the title: On a card already overflowing with standout performances, Sullivan tried his very best to steal the show. The big man was stiff, athletic and ultimately proved worthy of the championship level by pushing Black to the limit in an entertaining slugfest. Save for a late botch where Black clearly missed with his Black Mass spinning wheel kick yet Sullivan still fell down before kicking out at two, this was one heck of a match. Sullivan showcased his power early by catching Black's moonsault attempt on the floor with one arm before slamming him. Sullivan, who later got a two count on a pop-up power slam, hit a running one on the apron before connecting with an impressive diving head butt off the top rope that produced a dramatic near fall. The finish came when Sullivan, whose mouth was busted open, absorbed a Black Mass to the chest before rising to his knee and eating a third one to the chin for the pin. Grade: B+
Tommaso Ciampa def. Johnny Gargano via pinfall (Chicago Street Fight): Backstage before the match, Candice LaRae stopped Gargano, handed him the broken crutch from NXT TakeOver: New Orleans and demanded her husband kick Ciampa's ass. That's how the match began with the two immediately going into the crowd as Gargano grabbed a planted fan poster with a metal "Stop" sign hidden inside, ala ECW. Once they returned to ringside, Ciampa got the upper hand after loading the ringside area with chairs, garbage cans, stairs, kendo sticks and the like. A major spot came as Ciampa wrapped a chair around Gargano's neck and rammed the legs of the chair directly into the steps. Ciampa continued concentrating on Gargano's neck by slingshoting him with his head under the bottom turnbuckle.
Gargano thwarted an attempt by Ciampa to handcuff the babyface to the ropes, responding by removing his belt and whipping the heel as the fans chanted, "You deserve it!" before delivering a superkick to Ciampa while his head was inside a trash can. Ciampa answered with a backbreaker, two V-Triggers utilizing a trash can lid and White Noise onto the top of the steel steps. He then clipped the ropes attaching the canvas to the ring and peeled away both the mat and the padding, exposing the wood boards.
Neither man could plant the other onto the wood at that moment, so the brawl continued until they simultaneously hit each other with objects; Gargano happened to fall on top of Ciampa but only got a 2.75 count. Ciampa smacked a flying Gargano with a lid as he flew over the top rope to the outside, but Gargano dodged another attempted V-Trigger by Ciampa, who slammed his braced knee into the steel steps. As Ciampa began adjusting his brace, Gargano saw him and took advantage, repeatedly drilling it with the top of a steel chair. Ciampa countered by pushing Gargano into a trash can stationed between the turnbuckles before locking in the Gargano Escape. This led Gargano to pick up the broken crutch, but as he tried to use it, Ciampa slammed him in the back of the neck multiple times and hit him with another knee.
Unlike Gargano, who refused to use the broken crutch on Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, Ciampa hit Gargano with it in the back of the head only to get a two count. And in a callback to last year's Chicago show, Ciampa put Gargano's arm over his shoulders, screamed at him and brought him all the way up the ramp to throw him into the TitanTron. Screaming that the punishment was "not enough," Ciampa dragged Gargano atop some metal cartons setup in front of two tables. Ciampa pulled off Gargano's wedding ring, spit on it and threw it onto the stage, giving Gargano an opening to grab his nemesis and drive him through the tables with White Noise. The crowd immediately began chanting "Mama Mia!" as the referee called for trainers to assist both men.
Ciampa was placed in a neck brace and onto a board as Gargano climbed back up the metal cartons and watched the scene unfold, rubbing his finger missing the ring while Ciampa screamed. Blinded by rage, he eventually shook his head and retrieved Ciampa, unstrapping him from the board, throwing him back into the ring and removing the neck brace. Ciampa tapped immediately while in the Gargano Escape, but the match was not called as trainers broke the hold. Gargano then handcuffed Ciampa, kicked him in the head repeatedly and locked him in the Gargano Escape once more. Five suits removed Gargano from Ciampa, dragging him out of the ring. When Gargano ran back in to inflict more damage, Ciampa came to and caught him between the ropes, driving him into the previously exposed wood planks with an elevated DDT. The referee suddenly appeared and counted the 1-2-3. The match was fantastic. The storytelling was tremendous. The finish ... fine, though announcers never made a big deal of telling us the referee was incapacitated and it made no sense for them to breakup the submission attempts twice with the match still going on. That has to take it down just a peg. Grade: A
NXT TakeOver: Chicago highlights
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